As technology gets more complicated in which direction to actually take, it’s sometimes quite difficult. So it kind of goes back to, ideally, testing with users if you can which isn’t always possible but when it is, it’s a really, really helpful thing to do.
Simon Jones is the Founder and Managing Director at Studio 24, an award-winning digital marketing agency specializing in creating user-focused websites. Jones has over 20 years of experience in digital expertise and strategy and is also a trustee at Cambridge Film Trust.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Jones shares his thoughts on user-centered design, the overall user experience and the role of open-source technology.
Do you see the user experience area changing with newer interfaces as more people access the web through voice? (1:45)
A recent study by Adobe Analytics found that over 90% of company decision makers surveyed plan to significantly increase investments in voice. More than 20% of companies have already released a voice app and 44% plan to release one in the next year. The vast majority said they’ll develop voice apps for platforms like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
People are kind of looking into how people interact with voice and obviously there’s data privacy [around whether] voice is always on and things like this. People are kind of becoming more comfortable with it.
Where do you see the growth in your digital practice coming from in the next year or so? (2:20)
Jones said that major growth will be seen in progressive web apps. Studio 24 developed a mobile app for an international charity which provides people with disabilities in some of the poorest countries access to emergency services and humanitarian advice.
Progressive web apps are more of an open web standard so it’s something that’s just built into browsers and we’re hoping can make more apps, and support things like offline under notifications and geo locations, so that technology is quite an interesting area and one we’re starting to use more and more.
Tell us a little bit about headless architecture and [WordPress] Gutenberg, and how you think that’s had an impact on user interfaces or user design. (3:37)
While a traditional Content Management System (CMS) requires a front-end architecture to display content, a headless CMS does not, giving developers more flexibility with this back-end of content management.
WordPress CMS is decoupled from the front end; it doesn’t really affect the user—what helps us is we have more freedom on the front end so we’re able to build a more interesting user experience for the end user. It just helps us be a bit more free.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you often encounter when you’re thinking about building a really compelling user experience? (4:27)
It’s interesting to note that only 55% of companies are conducting user experience testing, despite the fact that UX is such a vital component for any business in E-commerce today.
It’s making sure you’re building the right stuff for users. It’s really easy to make a bunch of assumptions and we obviously have lots of experience but knowing technology gets more complicated and which direction to actually take is sometimes quite difficult so it goes back to, ideally, testing with users if you can.
How are you handling things like data privacy, which is obviously all important these days? (4:57)
Studio24 worked with a client where they took the approach of having an active user opt-in which didn’t include cookies advertising. Their stats showed that they lost about 80 percent of traffic.
Things like data privacy have become a lot more important to us over the last few years that has to be baked into how you approach projects, the idea of trying to minimize the data you collect, trying to be responsible and actually having discussions with clients about what they’re doing.
Do you see clients getting more sophisticated around this whole data minimization and principles? (6:12)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was the first broad legislative attempt to protect user privacy. However, fines have already been levied against large companies like Google and Marriott for not being in compliance.
People always kind of think, I’m being tracked around the web and I bought something over on Amazon, I’m going to go to another [website]…People expect everyone else to be able to have the same kind of standard so even small and medium businesses need to be able to take privacy seriously as well.
Could you share some of the case studies of great UX experiences that you’ve built on behalf of clients? (7:49)
We’ve found it quite nice to kind of layer the information on top of mapping systems such as Google…We did a similar thing a few years ago for a local archaeology organization, a new build called the Cambourne, and you can just see when the archaeological team went in before they built the entire town all the old artifacts and section buildings…that kind of [mapping tool] is quite fun.